Newsreel – Upside Down at Dennis the Menace Park

Back when PlayGroundology was a baby in early 2010, I ran across a great Facebook page called, I played at Dennis the Menace Park and lived! The intrigue was too much for me to resist. I quickly got in touch with page administrator and creator, Daniel Annereau to find out more about one of America’s first ‘extreme’ playgrounds. You can read that story here.

Imagine my excitement yesterday when I came across this film footage featuring the ‘helicopter’ ride, aka spinny thing of death. The 36 second clip starts pretty innocuously but the last 10 seconds or so pack a real punch with risky behaviour galore.

This is the playground that I would have loved to visit as a kid. I can imagine myself hanging upside down although I’m not sure I would have had the guts of the upside downer kid in the film.

Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey, California was an early example of a destination playground. Designer Arch Garner outdid himself on this project conceived by Dennis creator Hank Ketchum. Kids couldn’t get enough of it and who could blame them.

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6 responses to “Newsreel – Upside Down at Dennis the Menace Park

  1. Love the footage! And yes, we girls did wear dresses to the playground! In fact, at school we only wore pants under our skirts in bad weather!

  2. I love coming across little gems like this. They’re not just nostalgic. They can serve as a reality check too. Let me know if you ever come across any beauties like this that you’d care to share. Thanks Rita.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this clip! I spent many hours playing on this playground back in the late 60’s and early 70’s! Wonderful childhood memories. And to think that we survived the playground equipment! Kids these days have no idea how to really play!!!
    Thank,
    Sharon

    • Sharon, glad you enjoyed the clip. This is one playground I would have loved to have tried out out when I was a kid. It just looks like so much adventure and fun wrapped into one. You were sooooooooooo lucky. Tell your friends about PlayGroundology. Cheers

  4. Thanks for posting this! Playing there as a kid was even more fun than it sounds. I was always a little scared of the helicopter, but it was absolutely my favorite thing in the park. It’s sad to me that kids today don’t get to experience anything like this. We’re so scared of the possibility that someone might get hurt, we end up taking all the fun out of being a kid. Speaking of which, they’ve recently banned kids from climbing on the train at the same park. The train already had safety rails installed sometime after my childhood, but apparently it was still too dangerous.

    • Hi Kate, thanks for your note. I always love to hear from people who played at the real McCoy Dennis the Menace Playground. It just looks and sounds like every kid’s dream come true. Always interested in film and video clips that show the early days. If you come across any, please drop me a line. Too bad about the train and the ongoing sanitization. I think we need more adventure playgrounds in North America. Cheers, Alex

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